Responsible Agency

1. Which agency/government body/authority is responsible for land registration?

The authority responsible for land registration in Portugal is the INSTITUTO DOS REGISTOS E DO NOTARIADO, I.P. (IRN). The IRN manages all the land registry offices and also other registries offices such as business and vehicles registry, nationality, registry of natural person´s identification and civil status and the national registry of legal persons.

2. If the responsibility for property registration is dealt with by an agency/authority, to which government department is it responsible to?

The IRN is a public institute, under the supervision of the Portuguese Ministry of Justice.

3. How is the organization managed?

The IRN is directed by a board of directors. The board has a president which is the head of the organization. The board of directors is supported by an advisory council. The board of directors is appointed for a five years term. As a rule, the directors remain until the end of the term, with the exception of situations of succession of Governments (Cabinet), after elections, in which case there must be new appointment.

Land registrars are in a hierarchical relationship with the board of IRN, but they are independent in their activity of legal checking the applications and documents submitted by the interested parties to the land registry.

4. Describe the organisational framework

The land registry offices are spread all over the Portuguese territory. In each municipality there is at least one land registry office. All the land registry offices work in the centralized digital database. There is no territorial jurisdiction. Each office can perform all the registry acts over immovable properties despite of its location.

5. How is the agency/government body/authority funded?

The IRN and its net of land registry offices are mainly directly financed by the state annual budget. The land registry is also partially self-financed by a part of the fees charged in the land registry offices.

6. Are the staff of the agency/government, department/authority civil servants?

In Portugal, land registry staff is formed by civil servants with a permanent position. The hiring always demands a centralized recruitment procedure, conducted by IRN, according to the order of the Ministry of Justice, with public examinations and, in the registrars’ case, also a psychological evaluation.

Land registry acts are never performed in outsourcing.

7. Who is responsible for cadastral/mapping information? Is it the same organisation or a separate agency/department?

The cadastral/mapping information is separated from land registry. The Direção-geral do Território (General Direction of Territory) under the Ministério do Ambiente, Ordenamento do Território e Energia (Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy) is in charge of the cadastral information in Portugal.

8. What are the principal functions of the registering department/agency/authority?

The IRN’s mission is to implement and monitor policies related to registration services, in order to ensure the provision of services to citizens and businesses within the civil identification and civil registration, nationality, land, commercial, movable and legal persons registries, as well as ensuring that regulation, control and supervision of notaries.

9. What are the key values/principles underpinning registration of title in your system?

Portuguese land registry aims to promote the security in the real estate market by promoting the publicity of the rights and charges over the immovable property.

The Portuguese land registry is mandatory, within the deadline of two months, and it generates the presumption (iuris tantum) that the right exists and belongs to the registered owner, in the precise terms set in the land registry.

The Portuguese land registry system is subject to a legality principle. This means that the Land Registrars carry out a legal assessment of the documents or applications submitted. In accordance with Article 67 of the Land Registry Code the feasibility of the application must be assessed in light of applicable legal provisions, the documents submitted and the previous registries, verifying in particular the identity of the building, the legitimacy of parts, the formal validity of titles and validity of statements contained therein.

The land registry activity is also subject to the following principles:

  • Principle of enforceability which states that the facts subject by law to registration only produce effects against third parties after the date of its register.
  • Principle of priority (prior in tempore potior in iure) which states that the right entered in the first place prevails over those who follow it, in order of date of registration and, within the same date, the order number of presentations.
  • Principle of trato sucessivo or of the chain of registered transactions which states that the registration of a right or charge over immovable property depends on the prior entry of the property in favor of whom transmits or encumbers it.

10. What registration system of property do you have in your country (title/deed)?

Portuguese land registry is a title system. The inscription of a right or burden in the land registry is subject to a legality check by the registrar and it generates the presumption (iuris tantum) that the right exists and belongs to the registered owner, in the precise terms set in the land registry.